Leading article: Recovery of values

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It has been a remarkable recovery. In January the US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at an open-air meeting with constituents in Tucson, Arizona. Five months later, two photographs of her show how far she has progressed.

The shooting seemed to mark a low point in recent US politics. The partisan rhetoric in the preceding months had been cranked up to an almost unbearable level. The Republican Sarah Palin had published a map on her website, with various Congressional districts, including that of Ms Giffords, seen through crosshairs.

Though the shooting was the work of a demented loner, there was a widespread feeling that the Tucson attack, which killed six people and wounded 13 others, was something that was waiting to happen given the level of anger that had been stoked up in the political debate. A number of hopefuls for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election will hold a televised debate in New Hampshire today. The tone of this debate will be one indication of whether mainstream American politicians have learned anything from the Tucson shooting. We must hope that, alongside Ms Giffords's welcome recovery, we will also see a recovery in the civility of the US political discourse.

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